March 14, 2005

priviledge

So, Winston Peters is at it again. For a man who seems to genuinely care about constitutional proprietry, he's dragging our system through the mud in high style.

So, MPs should be able to say what they need to with out fear of libel cases being slapped on them left, right and centre. But that doesn't justify using Parliamentary Priviledge indescriminately (in the interests of getting re-elected) or victimising people you have taken a dislike to.

There is a modicum of balance to the priviledge, in that a politician can loose popularity if they are venal, nasty or patently stupid. Though not always.

I think it needs bolstering though. The speaker could use their considerable powers to place boundaries around the use of parliamentary priviledge. For example, if a citizen writes to the speaker indicating that they have suffered harm based on lies or false statements said in the House (or where the speaker decided an MP had crossed a line) the speaker could investigate the issue and sanction the MP as appropriate. In an institution in which you are not allowed to swear or insult other MPs, it would seem reasonable to expect they should be held to minimum standards about how truthful they are in describing private citizens.

Posted by carla at March 14, 2005 09:11 PM
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